29 Aug 2020 12:24 PM | Doni Eve

We are very pleased to have a judge of the calibre of Karen Schauber for this year’s flash fiction contest – BC-Yukon Flash 2020. Karen generously shared some key pointers about creating flash fiction and what she will be looking for in the contest.

Karen says: “Flash fiction is the hottest rising literary trend in Canada, and it is my happy obsession. I am thrilled to be serving as judge this year for the Federation of BC Writers BC-Yukon Flash 2020 flash fiction contest. Thank you for inviting me. I'm delighted to be working with first readers, Barbara Black  and John Gould, both of whom have impeccable flash fiction writing and publication chops.”
1. What draws you to writing flash fiction?
“I am besotted with the form, with the scope and depth that occupy such very tiny spaces; with the handpicking of words; with its emotional resonance - how it lingers; with the process of sculpting, refinement, and compression; how it can paint a picture of the human experience in a brief ordinary moment....how each piece is a marvel.”
3. How did you get started writing flash fiction?
“I discovered flash fiction reading journals and magazines on my iphone. I read flash fiction daily and enjoy discovering new voices – the talent out there is magic. Early on, I stumbled upon workshops teaching flash fiction online, mostly out of the US and UK, and have since participated in many three-day, ten-day, and month-long intensives, each honing a different aspect of the form. The workshops are lots of fun, generative, and attended by highly creative, respectful, and generous writers from across the globe. I also participate in a local writing circle and highly regard opportunities for critique and feedback. In the past three years I've published flash fiction in more than 50 international literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. Most of my pieces incorporate subtleties and artifice of surrealism and magical realism. Last year, I edited and curated a flash fiction anthology, The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings. It has placed 'Silver' in The Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best" Book Award for Short Fiction", 2020. I’m totally hooked.”
3. What is the best advice you've received on writing flash fiction?
“There are two pieces of advice I keep returning to:
‘Trust the Reader’—The quickest was to lose a reader's trust is to tell them what you mean. After you're done writing your story, go through and get rid of any places where you are trying to explain what is happening in the story. Instead, let the reader see what's happening by your very specific use of unusual detail and a banquet full of sensory information. Anton Chekhov said it this way. ‘Don't tell me that the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass’.   —Meg Pokrass (UK)
‘On Revision’—Cut it down as much as is possible before the piece falls down (like Jenga). ‘See how much you can cut, until the piece no longer works. It is then that you realize what the kernel is; the heart of the piece.’  —Emily Davidson (Vancouver)
Also, visit Vancouver Flash Fiction, which features 'Flash Fiction Writing Tips' penned by masterful writers from across the globe, every Sunday.”
4. What are you looking for in the contest submissions, and in the winning flash fiction?
“I'm looking for work that is beautifully written, in either its simplicity or sumptuous imagery; a demonstration of intentional word choice. The piece should have the emotive reach of a painting. And it should be immersive, inviting the reader to explore the recesses of their own imagination in-between the lines and white spaces. It should be layered, with more to discover in each subsequent read. It should not feel rushed but carefully crafted. And be evident that it could not have been written in any other form than compression. By the end of the story, something at its core should have undergone a transformation (either internal or external, imagined or proscribed, far-reaching or miniscule). Above all, the writer's delight with the flash fiction form should come through.
Any genre is welcome - literary, sci-fi, humour, magical realism/surrealism, historical/alternate history, contemporary, experimental; as long as it is fiction.”
About Karen Schauber:
Karen Schauber’s work appears in 50 international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies, including Brilliant Flash Fiction, Bending Genres, Ekphrastic Review, Fiction Southeast, New Flash Fiction Review, and Spelk Fiction. The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings (Heritage House, 2019), celebrating the Canadian modernist landscape painters, is her first editorial/curatorial flash fiction anthology. Schauber curates Vancouver Flash Fiction, a flash fiction resource hub and critique circle, and in her spare time, is a seasoned Family Therapist. A native of Montréal, she has called Vancouver home for the past three decades. She is a member of the Canadian Authors' Association, Federation of British Columbia Writers, and The Writers' Union of Canada.

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